Compassion–Jesus’ Style

Compassion–Jesus’ Style

Since an earlier writing spoke of the pressing social need to have a standard measurement of love, I follow my own advice in attempting to understand compassion. The standard measure of compassion is Jesus Christ as seen in His full Jewish and New Testament context. How did Jesus show compassion? How does the Master of Compassion inform our compassion?

Something to notice about compassion in Jesus’ time is that the word refers to a “gut reaction.” It was affection coming from the depths of one’s being, a gut level concern. While we most often describe compassion as from the heart, Jesus’ times pictured it as being deeply and inwardly moved by a “gut feeling.” Our word “compassion” means literally “suffering with” and speaks of being present to those in need.

Please consider in chart form various passages that reflect Jesus’ compassion in action. Some are surprising connections.

Occasion of Compassion                                                                 Action that Compassion Took

Saw a large crowd, felt compassion                                                     healed their sick (Matthew 14:14)

I feel compassion for the people                                                            Jesus miraculously feeds 4000 (Matthew 15:32)
because they remained 3 days with me
with nothing to eat & they might faint

Out from Jericho two blind men insightfully                                    Jesus touched their eyes and healed their blindness
cry to Jesus as “Son of David” and in spite (Matthew 20:34)
of the crowds Jesus moved with compassion

Widow’s only son died and when Jesus                                             Jesus raised the son from the dead (Luke 7:13)
saw her felt compassion saying
“Do not weep”

A leper asked Jesus to cleanse him                                                      Jesus touched leper and cleansed him (Mark 1:46)
Jesus moved with compassion touched him                                                (note not simply healing but cleansing)

Seeing the multitudes of people Jesus felt                                           Jesus tells his disciples to pray that the Lord of Harvest
compassion because they were distressed                                            sends workers to help gather together God’s people
and downcast, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          (highlighting lack of good leadership)

Parable of Unmerciful Servant:                                                              Lord of slave releases huge debt (Matthew 18:27)
Lord of slave felt compassion on him

Parable of Good Samaritan:                                                                    bandaged man’s wounds, took him to an inn and paid
saw man beaten, felt compassion on him                                           for man to be taken care of (Luke 10:33)

Parable of Prodigal Son/Running Father:                                          Father ran, embraced and kissed him. Put the best
While far away father saw rebellious revolting                                  robe on him, a ring on his hand, sandals on his feet
son and felt compassion                                                                           and threw huge party celebration (Luke 15:20)

Jesus seeing a great multitude of people                                              Jesus began to teach them many things (Mark 6:34)
who followed felt compassion because
they were like sheep without a shepherd

Do some of the actions connected with Jesus’ compassion surprise you? While I expected to see Jesus’ compassion in action for brokenness, sin, sickness, and death, there were some connections I did not expect. Why? Because I “naturally” limit Jesus’ compassion while the Lord Himself shows and calls for his fully-orbed version. In addition to what most understand as compassion (helping the broken, sick and hungry), Jesus’ style compassion also included directly addressing cleansing (read holiness for a temple people), intercessory prayer for the Lord of Heaven to act, and teaching people many things. It is common to separate the likes of kingdom teaching from compassion, but Jesus held them together. May we go and do likewise, with compassion, Jesus’ style.     LH


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